AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a severe blow to the Netherlands' World Cup hopes, midfielder Kevin Strootman looks certain to miss the tournament in Brazil because of a serious knee injury.
AS Roma said Monday that the 24-year-old Strootman will undergo surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and possibly damaging the meniscus in his left knee during Sunday's 1-0 loss at Napoli.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said in a statement he talked to the injured midfielder by phone. "I can imagine his world is falling apart at the moment," Van Gaal said, adding that Strootman's loss "is also a blood-letting for the Netherlands team."
The left-footed midfielder has captained the national side in the past and is widely considered a future full-time leader for his country. A strong tackler, he is also comfortable bringing the ball forward in attack.
Strootman has played 25 times for the Dutch national side as a midfield enforcer, scoring three times. He was one of only a handful of players virtually guaranteed a place in Van Gaal's World Cup squad.
"Kevin played a major role in our qualification for the World Cup in Brazil," Van Gaal said. The 2010 runners-up have been drawn to play defending champion Spain, Chile and Australia at the World Cup.